BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 95: IS THE TIDE TURNING?
The baseball labor negotiations adjourned Saturday "with a
glimmer of hope," as owners will prepare a new proposal to be
offered on Thursday in Washington, DC. Representatives of both
sides met on Saturday for only about 15 minutes, but the
principals departed "expressing renewed hope that a settlement is
at least possible" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 11/13). Word of
a new proposal, after two-and-a-half days of discussions led by
mediator William Usery in Rye Brook, NY, "is the first tangible
sign of progress in the stalled labor talks in months" (Steve
Zipay, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 11/13). Red Sox CEO John Harrington, who is
heading the owners' bargaining team: "It is fair to say that
this weekend was mutually productive. We've listened to what the
players have said, and I think we're aware of their concerns to a
greater degree" (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore SUN, 11/13). Usery:
"Both sides have been dealing in good faith" (N.Y. POST, 11/12).
But MLBPA Exec. Dir. Donald Fehr remained cautious: "We'll just
have to wait and see what happens Thursday. We'll be there"
(Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/13). Braves President
Stan Kasten said of the meetings scheduled for this week: "The
understanding is that we will not leave until we have a deal"
(I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/14).
THE PROPOSAL: According to Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, the owners
had a proposal ready to submit on Friday, but Usery convinced
them to hold off, "fearing the proposal, retaining the [salary]
cap concept, would be counterproductive." Murray Chass writes
that the new proposal will "come from the owners' desire to
position themselves with a more realistic proposal to implement
unilaterally if and when -- sometime next month -- they declare
an impasse in the negotiations" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/13). Although
"sources" said the cap might be removed from the new deal,
Harrington would not confirm that (Steve Zipay, N.Y. NEWSDAY,
11/13). But Hal Bodley writes that "owners will scrap the salary
cap and replace it" with a "luxury tax." However, "if the tax is
too high, the union will reject the proposal because it would
restrict spending" (USA TODAY, 11/14). One "prominent baseball
person" expected the owners to make a luxury-tax proposal, and
believed the owners now favored a negotiated settlement based
around a taxation system rather than the salary cap (Jayson
Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/13).
WINTER MEETINGS: With general managers beginning their
annual meetings today in Phoenix, Peter Gammons writes that
"there is a growing rift between the majority of general
managers, who have to run the baseball operations and the owners
and lawyers who have messed things up." Discussions at the
meetings will revolve around "downsizing payrolls" because of the
losses of the strike and the "huge loss in national TV dollars"
(Peter Gammons, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/13).